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How a Platform Approach Can Deliver Unified Digital Experiences

In this article, Dan Lahl, VP of Product Marketing at SAP, explores why businesses should leverage Digital Experience Platforms to deliver unified experiences to users

As industry conversations often focus on digital experience platforms and the convergence of web content management (WCM), enterprise portals, app development and commerce initiatives, I wanted to dive into business priorities for delivering unified experiences to their users.

Barriers Toward Seamless Integration

In discussions with CIOs, it became apparent that the convergence of different software categories was not top of mind – that is a vendor or analyst view of the world.  Rather, they were looking at their problem from a use case perspective – how they could seamlessly deliver a new set of apps quickly with a common and unified customer experience for their end users.  Without putting a name to it, they all described that they needed a Digital Experience Platform to accomplish this. Leaders top priorities include:

  • First, the need to deliver a continuous and enticing digital experience across the entire customer journey, independently of underlying data, applications, and organizational silos. Bottom line, the loud and clear message was that customers’ digital experience cannot be approached in isolation, rather it needs to go hand in hand with process and data integration. CIOs want integrated technologies that can support end-to-end processes.
  • The second challenge area is the speed of solution delivery across channels. Customers, employees, and suppliers interact with businesses across a variety of apps, media and devices on a daily basis. However, it’s still difficult to deliver incremental services across channels, with an agile development methodology and without duplicating efforts, if the right capabilities are not in place.
  • The third major takeaway is that when it comes to digital user experience, it’s not one size fits all – a comprehensive set of diverse tools and functionalities are key to success. Change is a constant in today’s market and new business initiatives might bring unexpected challenges. What powers digital experience initiatives needs to support mobile, omnichannel and continuous experiences, whether it’s existing internal business processes or brand new ones. Having a broad set of capabilities is necessary for delivering a uniform user experience and accelerating implementation.

CIOs were also unanimous to point out that all the required tools or services should work synergistically with the rest of the existing infrastructure to avoid creating new silos. Additionally, businesses don’t have time to waste on integrating disjointed capabilities and tools. Therefore, leaders are seeking a platform approach to deliver optimal Digital Experiences for their end users.

A Platform Approach to Connecting Systems, Processes, Teams and Tools

Looking at challenges and priorities these CIOs were outlining, it comes as no surprise that so many businesses – including Sika, RuralCo, and Bentley Systems – have chosen a cloud platform as the foundation for their digital experience initiatives.

It’s important to choose a platform – ideally as part of a larger integrated public cloud offering – that includes portal, conversational UI, content management, collaboration and commerce. This allows digital experience projects to rely on design and prototyping services, development tools, mobile services, integration services, API management, data services, and more – via a platform approach.

The rapid development and deployment of new solutions across channels should be a strength of the platform to ensure consistency in experience and simplicity in development and maintenance. For example, if a developer has created a new application using portal service, then she can make the same application available to her end users on their mobile device within minutes using the mobility service. This is possible because all digital experience services work synergistically as part of a larger platform to deliver what an enterprise needs.

What makes a platform robust?

At the core of a solid cloud platform is the ability to integrate processes and data with real-time exchange of data with on premises systems and workflow management. This allows you to bridge siloes across your IT landscape, creating the operational environment required to deliver an interactive, end-to-end experience to your customers, employees, and suppliers. You must rely on a platform that can innovate at the experience level, while also continuing to rely on existing business process to run core business, so that you can gain business agility by adopting a two-speed IT model. The first mode for your stable digital core and the second for rapid digital experience innovation. Both operating within the same platform.

For example, Rainforest Connection, a company that produces monitoring systems for deterring illegal deforestation, turned to an open cloud platform to better predict and respond to real-time threats. An integrated platform approach helps Rainforest Connection integrate machine learning, IoT and predictive analytics in a unified space to prevent deforestation and help biologists study species in the areas they monitor.

Endnote

Bottom line, you must have access to a composite and integrated set of services to build modern websites, portals, mobile and IoT applications so that you can create your own version of what Gartner calls a Digital Experience Platform. But most importantly, you can customize and extend the user experience of your applications in a consistent manner, as well as develop and deploy new applications that work synergistically with your existing business processes. In doing so, you can provide a continuous, personalized, omnichannel experience to all users – with no need to deal with a plethora of specialized cloud and tool providers for each layer of your IT architecture.

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